Category Archives: User Groups

Arcane Events: Upcoming Tech Events in the Birmingham AL Area

Today we’re having a big staff meeting at work, and the organizers are graciously allowing me to mention some of the upcoming tech events happening in the Birmingham, Alabama area. I’m also providing this info here, so everyone can benefit.

Tech Birmingham’s ( Tech Mixer ( is the huge gathering for anyone in the local tech industry. Vendors, user groups, geeks, and nerds of every type will descend upon the McWane Center in downtown Birmingham on May 1st. Entry and parking is free, go to the third floor entrance on the parking deck. If you pre-register you will be eligible for a special door prize, so jump online now it’s quick and easy.

The Birmingham Software Developers Association (BSDA) meets the second Thursday of every month at 6:30 pm. The BSDA meets in the computer center of Virginia Tech college, which is located on the backside of the Palisades shopping center in Homewood. While most of the club presentations are Microsoft centric, we do stray into other areas from time to time. For more info go to the club website at

The Birmingham Dot Net User Group (Bug.Net) meets the second Tuesday of every month, also at 6:30. With a heavy emphasis on Microsoft dot Net development, the club meets in the CTS offices in Riverchase. Details and directions can be found at

So you say night meetings are hard for you to attend? Well for the lunch time crowd there’s the Internet Professional Society of Alabama, or IPSA. Meeting at St Vincent’s Bruno Conference Center, IPSA meets once a month to discuss internet development, and they’re even sponsored by Alabama Power! See the club site at for meeting times and directions.

These are just a few of the groups in the Birmingham Area. There are user groups for Linux, Oracle, DB2, Perl, Java, Ruby, and much, much more. See a complete list at

Whatever your interest is, there’s a tech group for you. Just do a google on “user group” and the name of your town and I bet you’ll find a match.

Alabama Code Camp Slides

Here’s a copy of the Slides I’ll be using (or used depending on when you read this) at Alabama Code Camp 4 in Mobile AL. They are in PDF format.

Getting Started with SQL Server Compact Edition – Code Camp Slides

Thanks to all who came to my presentation!

Getting Ready for Code Camp

This week I’ll be working toward the Alabama Code Camp to be held in Mobile this Saturday, April 14th. ( I will be giving a presentation on SQL Server Compact Edition, and invite you all to come.

Since my previous SSCE posts were a bit back and a little scattered, I thought I’d start with a quick recap of my SSCE to date.

My first post described the background of SSCE, and where to get it from. You can find it at:

My second post described how to create a new SSCE database using code. You can find this post at:

The third post showed how to create a new table in your database, and can be located at:

My next post showed you how to insert rows into the newly created table:

And finally is my piece on loading a SSCE table from a standard DataTable object:

That ought to get you up to speed, stay tuned this week as I build up to the weekend presentation.

Arcane Tidbits

The blog now has it’s own domain, just tell your friends to go to for this blog.

I’m speaking at the upcoming code camp, Alabama Code Camp ( I’ll be speaking on SQL Server Compact Edition, but even if you are not interested in SSCE come on out there’s plenty of sessions no matter what your interest. April 14th in Mobile, make your plans now!

As I mentioned yesterday, I spoke to a group today at a Microsoft sponsored event. It was a lunch and learn session at one of Birmingham’s exclusive business clubs.

It was an interesting experience, I really enjoyed it. Of course I’m one of those people who really enjoy public speaking, so perhaps that shades my experience somewhat, but I think it’s something everyone should do given the opportunity.

If you are a little uncomfortable speaking, I highly recommend Toastmasters ( They give you training in a supportive environment to get comfortable speaking in front of crowds.

Arcane Education: Alabama Code Camp IV

Yes, it’s spring time, when the flowers are in bloom, and a young man’s fancy turns to… .NET!

Alabama Code Camp IV is coming up quick, April 14th is just a few short weeks away. For those in the south-east, this one will be held in Mobile AL. See all the details at:

If this is anything like the previous ones it’ll be great, tons of great speakers and lots of good swag. If you have never been to Mobile before, there’s a lot to see and do. My family is coming along and we’re going to make a weekend of it.

Top on my list (after code camp of course) is seeing the USS Alabama (, a WW II Battleship. At the same location they have the USS Drum, a submarine, a B52, an A-12 Blackbird, and tons of other exhibits.

If battleships aren’t your thing, Mobile is loaded with opportunities, check out Yahoo’s top 16 list at,  or the Mobile city guide on (

And for the beach goers, Orange Beach is right next door to Mobile (literally). Check out the fun in the Gulf of Mexico at

So there you go, a whole day of geeky fun for you, and plenty of ways for the family to be out spending your money, oops I mean having fun while you are getting an education. Well, at least Code Camp is free!

So quit sitting on your duff and start making plans today!

Arcane Thoughts: Hug Your Developer Evangelist Today

Last night Doug Turnure came to give a presentation to the Birmingham Software Developers Association (BSDA). Doug is the Microsoft Developer’s Evangelist for Alabama / Georgia / Mississippi. Brian Hitney, Developer Evangelist for North and South Carolina happened to be in Atlanta where Doug lives, and came along.

Together, the pair did an excellent presentation on Vista. Doug started things out with the new gadget sidebar component, the various kinds of gadgets, and gave a demonstration on developing a gadget.

Brian then picked up the presentation, giving us a technical overview of the core changes to the OS. He covered a surprising amount of technical detail in the short amount of time he had, and made it understandable.

We had a packed room, but Doug and Brian stayed until they’d answered every question from the crowd. They did a great job, and I just wanted to take a moment to thank them publicly. The Developer Evangelists do a lot for us, they spend a lot of time away from home visiting user groups and giving us a lot of free training and advice.

Take time to get to know your developer evangelist, work with them to coordinate presentations at your user groups. And don’t forget to thank them when it’s all over. Thanks guys!


We interrupt this blog with a brief message of flagrant self promotion… On Thursday, November 9th at 6:30 p.m. I will be giving a presentation to the Birmingham Software Developer’s Association ( My presentation will focus on the tools I’ve been talking about in this blog. There will also be some hardware mentioned, my talk is designed to get you to think about ways to make your life as a developer or power user easier.

Consider this an open invitation to everyone to come on out and see me speak. See the website referenced above for directions and locations. Hope to see you there!

Robert (aka Arcane Code)